Be like a turtle

It’s April and the turtles are out again. In Burnett Woods, they are out on their log, basking in the sun, soaking up spring. The Spring Grove Cemetery turtles gather in large groups on rocks; some are so chill they don’t even have their legs out to make a quick exit. Legs in, eyes closed, heads directed to the sun, I think I can learn from them.

We’re not in that horrible place of a year ago; hope is there but all of us have weathered loss and fear. Maybe that’s why some days I feel like what the Brits call tetchy. I looked it up to see if my memory is correct and yep, “peevish” and “cantankerous” are right. What the heck is my problem? My kids are back in school; loved ones are vaccinated.

The turtles at Spring Grove. Some are so comfortable, their legs are in.

It reminds me how I felt when Calvin was done with chemo; exhausted. When you’re in the battle, it’s almost easier, as strange as that sounds.

I do have a lot of gratitude but I also have those down days that feel a little extra hard right now. I continue to take lots of walks; the trees are showing off right now. I look to my favorite authors and podcasts for relief. And guess what? I’m not the only one struggling with the balance of gratitude and sadness. It’s just who we are.

In Kate Bowler’s podcast, Everything Happens, I’ve found a lot of comfort and laughs. In an episode with writer Kelly Corrigan (love her), Kelly shares how she’s caught between moments of insight and seeing the big picture and “just like that I slip into the mundane irritants and I feel a sense of shame.” She seeks clarity/an answer with a mediation teacher and he says, “It’s like this.” I plan to check out her latest book Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Things I’m Learning to Say.

This tree reminds me of myself. A little battered but the blooms are pushing through.

I devoured Anne Lamott’s new book, Dusk, Night, Dawn. That Anne. For more than 20 years she’s been helping me and she doesn’t even know it. She addresses her fears, times of extreme tetchiness. Now that she’s in her 60s, she says she cycles through the hard patches faster.

Writer Glennon Doyle reminds us that bad days are going to happen and they make the good ones sweeter.

That’s what art does, right? It helps you.

The other night, my friend Samir said she loves being 40 because she just doesn’t care what people think and knows herself. I kind of looked at her in awe and thought, I’m 51 and for God’s sake, I’m still figuring it out. But I’ve always been a late bloomer.

Today, I’m going to try to be a turtle, legs in, face to the sun. Other days, I’m going to have my legs out, ready to jump in the pond. And that’s ok.